Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I got this super cute Halloween chocolate mold so I made a bunch of little Halloween chocolates.

But then I didn't know what to do with them, so I opted for making cupcakes for a pumpkin carving party that I was going to, and using the little chocolates as decorations. :)

Stacey's Pumpkin Cupcake Ingredients:
1c unbleached white flour, organic
3/4c whole wheat flour, organic
1/4c brown rice flour, organic
1tbs cornstarch
3/4c dark brown sugar, organic
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
1tbs cinnamon
1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 can pumpkin, organic (15 oz)
2 eggs, organic
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2c nonfat yogurt, organic
1/2c butter, salted, organic (1 stick)
1/4c whole milk, organic
1 tsp fresh grated ginger

For the frosting, I thought I'd try using Neufchâtel. I think I will use regular cream cheese next time because it looked a little grainy.

Stacey's Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
8oz Neufchâtel cheese
1/2c butter, salted, organic (1 stick)
1/4c heavy cream, organic
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2-2.5c confectioners sugar

Toasted pumpkin seeds
Chocolate decorations

First I [preheated the oven to 350F, then mixed all the dry ingredients for the cupcakes in a large bowl.  Then in a large glass measuring cup, I microwaved the yogurt, butter, and milk, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute in order for the butter to be soft without it melting all the way.  I added the eggs, vanilla and fresh ginger, and whisked with a fork.  I poured this over the dry ingredients and then put the canned pumpkin on top.  I mixed everything with a spatula and then used a cookie scoop to spoon the batter into cups in a muffin tin - this is easiest since the batter is kind of thick.  If you don't have a cookie scoop, probably 2 large spoons would be good to scrape batter into each cup.

I baked them for about 22-24 minutes, rotating once in between and it made 22 cupcakes.  While the cupcakes were cooling, I made the frosting.

I had let the cheese come to room temperature, but you can probably microwave and stir it and the butter at 10 second intervals (making sure it doesn't get too hot) until everything is soft.  Then I added that and the cream and vanilla to my standing mixer and added the confectioners sugar 1/3 cup at a time until it was the sweetness and consistency I wanted.  It ended up a little grainy, as I said before, but it still tasted good.

Once the cupcakes were cool, I frosted them, and placed 1 chocolate in the middle of each cupcake.  Then I sprinkled the toasted pumpkin seeds around the chocolate.

I liked these.  The cake isn't too sweet so the frosting goes well with it.  Everyone at the party seemed to enjoy them.  And of course, I can't not show you the pumpkin I carved at the party!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Makeup 2011

Sephora posted a bunch of cool instructions for Halloween this year and I decided to try one out.

Zombie: Trial Run
This is the version just as is from the Sephora instructions.  Black and green around the eyes, green to take out any red tones, powder finish, light foundation on the lips, shadows under the cheekbones. 

I also tried out an additional bit of red lipstick and some brown liner (to make it look a little dried) since I didn't have any fake blood.

Zombie: Yaboo!
For Yaboo! (Yahoo!'s Halloween extravaganza) though, I opted to just go without the "blood." I scared people. :)

Zombie: Brain Taste Trial
Despite the makeup, still don't like eating brains.  And that pesky skull gets in the way. 

Happy Halloween! ((^-^))

UPDATE:  Decided to put on some more makeup for the trick-or-treaters tonight. :) This one's for you Heart. [Props to you if you get the reference without clicking the link. :D ]

Friday, October 28, 2011

Honey Almond Spice Cake

I'm what you would call a honey junkie.  If there is honey at a farmers' market, 9 times out of 10, I will buy it.  I'm pretty sure all the honey vendors have a picture of me with a caption on it that says, "(Honey) Sucker."  If they give me a sample, I'm pretty much honey in their hands.  The 1 out of 10 times I don't buy it is probably because I don't have enough cash on me and I feel like it's wrong in some way to go home with no produce yet still weighed down by giant glass jars of heaven in syrup form. Let's just say I'm only one dimension away from being a cartoon bear stuck in a tree. I'm already chunky and yellow and enjoy tight T-shirts.  Here is some of my massive honey collection:

In case anyone is curious, from top to bottom, left to right:
  1. Orange Blossom honey from the Alemany Farmers' Market - yummy and floral in a good way (vs the bad way where it tastes like soap - I'm looking at YOU, disgusting rose candy)
  2. Mountain Flora honey from Eggman Family from the Civic Center Farmers' Market - nutty, but mild and delicious
  3. Avocado honey from boyfriend who obtained it from a Mediterranean store - very mild but thick and dark, not much flavor
  4. Amorossi Blueberry honey, also from same Mediterranean store - haven't tried yet
  5. Wild Blackberry honey from Marshall's Farm the Civic Center Farmers' Market - super expensive but see above paragraph about junkie status; wonderful hint of berry, thick and a bit chunky, nice texture for just eating (I probably won't ever use this on anything - will probably just eat it)
  6. Wildflower Honey (I think) from Queen Bee Honey from Millbrae Farmers' Market - very complex floral flavor, light, very delicious
  7. Raw Orange Blossom Honey from Burlingame Farmers' Market - much less flavorful than the Alemany one, but still light and yummy
  8. Raspberry Honey from Moon Valley Honey from my mom from I don't know where - doesn't really have much flavor other than a light honey, but nice level of sweetness
    I definitely like the milder tasting honeys versus the darker ones which taste stronger and more molassesy to me. 

    Okay, now that you know about my habit that maybe in a few years will intensify enough to get me on My Strange Addiction, back to the original reason for my post.  In this recipe, I wanted to highlight the flavor of the Mountain Flora honey (#2) that I bought recently.  Since it is nutty and light, I thought I'd make a spicy nutty cake that would complement it. 

    Stacey's Honey Almond Spice Cake Ingredients:
    1c unbleached white flour, organic 
    1/2c almond meal
    1/4c brown rice flour, organic
    1c sugar, organic
    2 tsp baking powder
    3/4 tsp salt
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

    2 eggs, organic
    1/2c nonfat yogurt, organic
    1/2c heavy cream, organic
    1/4c water

    3-4 tbs Mountain Flora honey
    9x9" cake pan
    Reusable 9x9" cake liner

    First I preheated the oven to 350F. I mixed all the dry ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl.  I mixed the yogurt, cream, and water together and microwaved it for a minute to take the chill off.  It was about 80F degrees when I whisked it together with a fork.  Then I mixed the wet into the dry ingredients and poured the contents into the cake pan with the liner at the bottom. 

    I baked the cake for about 32 minutes, rotating once at the halfway point.  

    Then, while the cake was still hot, I poured the honey on top and spread it over the surface.  Since the cake is warm, the honey spreads quickly and has time to permeate the surface.

    The cake was really moist with great flavor.  Everyone really seemed to like it.  The spices and the nuts seemed to complement the honey just like I'd hoped.

    Now there's no more cake.  Oh bother...

    At least there's still more honey.  And the recipe to do it again. :)

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Zoo Chocopops

    Heading down to the mothership today for Halloween festivities at Yaboo! where I will get to see some of my co-workers kiddies all dressed up.  Thought I'd make a few kid friendly treats for the occasion.

    Stacey's Zoo Chocopops Ingredients:
    Guittard white chocolate couverture
    Guittard milk chocolate couverture

    Zoo mold
    Lollipop sticks

    First I tempered the milk chocolate.  For some reason I've found that if you go dark to light when applying chocolate, it will remain tempered but if you try and go light to dark (i.e. put white chocolate down first, then put dark chocolate on top of it), the lighter chocolate will become untempered and will have fat bloom.  In any case... I used the chopstick to apply milk chocolate for a giraffe's spots and a lion's mane.  Then I used all milk chocolate for a monkey and an elephant (applying the sticks to these).  Once I poured in the white chocolate to the giraffe and lion, I put the sticks there too.  I jiggled the mold as I was filling to make sure there were no air bubbles.

    Once everything had dried and cooled overnight (you really only need a few hours), I inverted the molds.

    The lion is my favorite. :) Rowr!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Ackbar's Adventures: San Francisco

    Lizzie and I decided to take a little trip into the city.  We had heard BART was an interesting experience, so we went to the nearest station.  Little did we know that the journey would be fraught with danger.

    Still, we had heard many good things about this beautiful city by the bay, so despite the threats to our safety, we waited patiently for a train to arrive.

    And waited...

    We thought perhaps there was some sort of sensor that might need to be triggered by a larger entity to make the train come, so we decided to hitch a ride in what we heard was called a "hoodie."

    The ride into the city was long and arduous.  Lizzie and I passed the time by staring out the window.

    I asked our hoodie if it would be much longer.  He said he wasn't quite sure, but that he was getting hungry. I took that as a warning and tried to keep my distance.

    When our hoodie got off the train and finally stopped, we appeared to be on some sort of platform.  Lizzie saw a silo of what appeared to be giant fried slices of tuber and fruit near some wading pools of different colored muds.

    I told Lizzie to stay back as I approached the silo.  "Coast is clear," I called out to her.

    Little did I know the hungry hoodie was also indulging on these fried delectables.

    Lizzie tried to warn me, but I was too hungry.

    "Look out, you stupid fish face!" she shouted.  Lizzie is not very nice when she is upset.

    Do not worry, readers.  I was mostly unharmed.  I wondered if I was ejected by the dreaded "electric third rail."

    I ran off to hide behind what appeared to be a lime slice aquarium. Lizzie kept watch for our next opportunity.

    When a swimming pool of food arrived at the table, we realized the hoodie would be distracted by it.

    We made a break for it and leapt into the silo of fried goodness.

    There wasn't much left by hoodie standards, but there was enough for us.  We got some food and made our way back out of the silo.

    Lizzie and I sat and enjoyed the fried fruits of our labor.

    But, we did not have long to enjoy our meal.  Moments later, an abomination was laid down before us.  It pains me to recall what occurred next, but it is only to warn my ocean brethren readers, should you come to visit this place.  Lizzie and I looked down in horror as we saw what appeared to be large pieces of fish on a skewer.

    We ran as fast as we could off of the platform and when we were outside again, we saw the big sign that said La Mar.  I gasped... "The Sea"... I then wondered if the swimming pool of food could also have been the fish torture I'd only heard about in childhood ghost stories, hidden beneath the enormous onions: cebiche.

    Lizzie and I decided we could no longer travel with the hoodie.  We were on our own to continue our exploration.  The road looked long and arduous, but we were prepared.  After what we had just seen, we thought nothing could be worse.

    We took a moment of silence for the victims and gazed out at the ocean.  Perhaps they were now swimming in some great ocean in the sky.

    As we walked, I saw Lizzie looking at something.  "What is it?" I asked her.  I turned around and to my shock and horror, I saw another atrocity.

    This poor octopus had suffered the same fate as Han Solo!  "Don't worry my cephalopod friend! I will save you somehow!"

    As we looked down, we saw there were many other sea creatures.  "Maybe it's art?  Perhaps it's some sort of memorial to your people by the hoodies to apologize for eating them?"

    I stared down at all the other statues and I wondered if it were true.  It was then that I saw another mortal enemy of small sea creatures and I knew we had to get out of there.

    I saw a massive weapon that I thought could be used to exact revenge on the hoodies for their crimes against my people.

    Then I found an escape method.  "After we're done destroying the planet with the weapon, we could leave forever and never come back!" I told Lizzie excitedly.  "Um, I don't want to leave," she said sadly.

    We walked around and I continued to ponder the situation.  We passed by some sort of zoo.  The animals appeared friendly. I asked them if they wanted in on my revenge plan.  "Who me?" said the dragon. "Me like people. Please no destroy."

    Suddenly, I remembered that hoodies take care of Monster.  And Monster is our friend.  I looked at Lizzie.  She must have sensed what I was thinking.  "It would be so much work to kill everyone and I'm tired.  Can't we just go home and see Monster?" she whined.  We decided to find our hoodie again and we smuggled ourselves aboard.  Just another thing Han taught me.

    Once we arrived back home, we greeted Monster and snuggled in for a nap.  And so ended our first San Francisco adventure.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Strawberry Mango Chocolate Leaves

    This was actually an experiment trying to create orange.  I was hoping that if I used freeze-dried powdered strawberries (red) and mangoes (yellow), that I could turn white chocolate orange. Turns out the mangoes are almost the same color as the white chocolate, so I just ended up with pink.  They taste pretty yummy though.

    Stacey's Strawberry Mango Chocolate Leaf Ingredients:
    9 oz Guittard white chocolate couverture
    ~ 1 oz freeze-dried strawberry / mango mixture (50/50)

    So first I ground the fruit to a powder in a mortar and pestle like in my strawberry cream crunchies recipe. I used a leaf mold and made sure it was dry and clean (I rinsed it and wiped all the spots with a cloth - this is to make sure all the chocolates come out shiny, without watermarks from dried water droplets). Then I tempered some white chocolate and stirred the powder in.

    I spooned the chocolate into the mold, jiggling the mold on the counter-top to make sure I released any bubbles.  I let the chocolate cool for a few hours and then turned the molds upside-down to release the chocolates.

    When I was done, I got some pretty pink white chocolate leaves:

    So, perhaps this is something for spring more than for fall.  :)

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Green Onion Hearty Country Bread

    As I continue to play with the Hearty Country Bread recipe, I'm always trying new methods and additives. This time, I'm going to try letting it rise in the refrigerator for two nights, add the salt to the dough instead of at the same time as the sponge, and add in green onions.

    Stacey's Green Onion Hearty Country Bread Ingredients:
    1c whole wheat flour, organic
    1/2c dark rye flour, organic
    1/2 tsp yeast
    1c water, 110F

    3c unbleached white bread flour, organic artisan + 1/2-1c additional
    1 tsp yeast
    2 tsp salt
    1 1/3c warm water, 110F
    3 tbs honey (avocado honey - it's dark, thick and not very sweet or strong tasting. The boyfriend found this at a Mediterranean market)

    5 green onions
    Sunflower oil, organic

    Standing Mixer
    Silicone spatula
    Silicone brush
    Plastic wrap
    Parchment paper
    Baking stone
    Rimless baking sheet

    First I made the sponge (mix all the ingredients together and cover with plastic wrap) and let it sit overnight.  The next morning, I made the dough.  I put the flour, yeast, and salt into my standing mixer and mixed the honey into the warm water. With the dough hook on the mixer, and on the stir setting, I poured the honey water in and allowed the dough to form.  It was a fairly wet dough, but I like this better because otherwise the sponge won't mix in correctly.

    I let the dough rest for 20 minutes, covered, after it was combined, and chopped the green onions into small pieces, discarding the tops and the bottom root portion. After the 20 minutes of resting and then added in the sponge and the green onions.  I turned the mixer on with the dough hook and let it mix for 8 minutes, adding additional flour until the dough was just dry enough not to stick to my silicone spatula.  It was still sticky to the touch, but just not sticky enough to instantly bond to the spatula.

    Once it was complete, I poured a little bit of the oil on the dough (probably a tablespoon) and used a silicone brush to brush oil around the surface of the dough and the sides of the bowl.  Then I used the silicone spatula to sort of turn the dough so that it would be separated from the bowl and get some oil over all of the dough's surface.  I think you're supposed to make it into a ball by hand, but I'm lazy.  :)  Then I covered the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, not touching the dough, and then put it in the fridge overnight.

    The following evening, I took the dough out, separated it into two pieces and formed loaves.  I always press the dough into a flat rectangle, fold into the center like a business letter, then fold the opposite ends in and smash the edges together with my fingers to fix the ends. Then I turn it upside down so that the entire surface is round and smooth. I placed them on the parchment paper on the rimless baking sheet, brushed them with oil with the silicone brush, and left them to rise overnight.

    In the morning, I set the oven to 500F with my baking stone in it, and then went to check on my 2 loaves in the refrigerator. 

    Lesson Learned: You'd think I'd know this after putting two loaves too close together in the oven in my last post. No, I did not. I put both loaves next to each other.  So, from now on, I'll only put 1/2 of this recipe on each baking sheet (unless I'm baking a single loaf, of course).

    The other thing I learned recently is that you're supposed to score the loaves right before they go into the oven.

    One more reason that you shouldn't put all the dough on is that this much dough is pretty tough to wiggle on to the baking stone, especially if it's been rising in the fridge all night on the parchment paper (which gets the parchment paper pretty damp).  I just barely got it in there.  I try not to let too much heat out of the oven and open it for as short a time as possible, so anything that lengthens the process of getting the dough onto the stone is not so great.

    I baked the loaves for about 30 minutes and I wish I could add smell to my posts.  I love the smell of bread and green onion, so together it was just heavenly. 

    These loaves were big, and I've learned with big loaves, it's best to use both hands with 2 oven mitts to get them out of the oven.

    I let them cool for another 30 minutes before slicing.  I really like the texture of this bread.  I think letting them rise in the refrigerator over a period of two days was well worth it.

    The air pockets were the right size and the center was soft, moist, and had nice flavor.  I think I could go for more green onions next time though.  Take-aways:
    1. Refrigerator rising method is good.
    2. Adding salt to dry dough ingredients does not appear to have ill effects.
    3. Only half of the hearty country bread recipe on each baking sheet / piece of parchment paper.
    4. Next version of green onion bread - 10 green onion stalks.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    World's Longest Bread Rant

    I know I haven't posted for quite a while. My apologies to the few people that I force to look at my blog.  I've been doing bread making research and I'm SO new to this that I couldn't even put it in the blog and pretend I know what I'm doing.  I've been baking bread for a few weeks though now, and I think just for my own sake I wanted to start documenting in case I wanted to repeat something.  I have made a few fairly yummy loaves so far, so I thought it was time to start posting again. :)

    Here are some things that I learned mostly using the same Hearty Country Bread recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (that most bread makers will scoff at since they seem so rudimentary):

    1. I don't like "beer bread" recipes.  There are recipes that do not require yeast or kneading - recipes that remove all the hard parts about making bread and replace it with beer, which ultimately, like life, makes things a bit more disappointing than if you put in a little effort.  These breads end up more like a salty cake.  They taste better with cheese, as everything does, but I still don't like them. If you want to try, here's my hero Alton Brown's beer bread recipe. And a picture of one of the beer breads I made where I added WAY too much salt.

    2. Bread requires planning. This should be a "duh," but seriously, I didn't really understand how much time you need to bake bread.  If you are going to do it all in one shot (and eliminate the sponge [a little bit of wet dough that you make early and allow to ferment to give the bread more complex flavors]), theoretically, you need at least 4.5-5 hours.  This includes the initial mixing, letting it rise twice, heating the oven/baking stone, and baking the bread.  I suppose you could do some overlap of heating the oven and letting it rise, but that's really only 30 minutes and you'd have to be certain it wouldn't overproof in the time that you were heating the oven.  
    3. Forming the loaf is very important. Again, another "duh" postulate, but it is very important.  I had a few loaves explode out the side because they just weren't formed correctly.  I still don't understand the whole gluten thing, but you have to make sure all the strands are going the right way otherwise you get explodey bread (not literally, but the bread will mushroom out in places).
    4. You can't leave rising loaves completely unattended. So I've been using a heating pad under my loaves to speed up the rising process, but I didn't really understand over-proofing.  Sometimes dough can get way out of control.
    5. Bread needs salt. Let me repeat... BREAD NEEDS SALT.  I know that salt is always important, but I kept not remembering to put it in when I first started learning because you put it in after letting it rise once (after some very extensive research [aka: googled] I learned you have to do this because otherwise it kills the yeast), and boy is that bread boring and nasty.  In addition to leaving my poor bread loaves to explode from neglect, I also forgot to add salt to them.  After separating the dough back into two loaves and baking, they just weren't quite the same.  Texture was decent, but taste was definitely lacking.
    6. A bread stone makes a nicer crust.  After a disappointing dampened bread bottom (although this is probably more due to the fact that I left the bread on the baking sheet to cool), I went out and bought myself a pizza stone.  I also put the bread on cooling racks when they come out of the oven to make sure the crust doesn't get dampened by heat / cooling moisture.
    7. You can let dough rise in the fridge overnight. I am still experimenting with this, but it appears to be working, and the flavor and texture of the bread is optimal so far.  Co-workers appear to enjoy bread, and this is the only way they get it because I don't want to wake up at 2am just to indulge my current bread making obsession. 
    8. DON'T let the dough rise at room temperature overnight. This over-proofs the bread and you will find that it rose and fell overnight.  Once this dough is made into loaves, left to rise again, and baked in the morning, the texture of the bread seems to be a bit spongy.  The dough in front was left to rise overnight at room temperature.

      From this sliced picture, you can see that the air pockets are small. I think this may have contributed to the spongier and less moist, less chewy texture, which I didn't like.
      The other bread which was left to rise in the refrigerator, looked like this:
      And it looked like this when cut (you can see the air pockets are much larger and more irregular, which I think makes for a better tasting / textured bread:
    9. Humidity / Weather makes a difference in dough. I just discovered this last night.  Yesterday was a bit on the warm side, in the mid-70s (it's they bay area, I know, we're wimps) and my dough was much drier than it had been in the past couple weeks.  I still don't know if this is because of humidity or heat. 
    10. Make sure your oven racks are in securely. Turns out my bottom rack where I placed the bread stone wasn't sitting correctly and it ended up pitching forward and rolling a loaf of bread I'd been working on right onto the door of the 500F oven.  I ended up grabbing the dough from the door and throwing it into the sink out of frustration and had to peel off a burnt cracker later (which was surprisingly easy).  Also I had a little fit afterwards.  Apologies to my boyfriend. :]
    11. Basic Hearty Country Bread steps:
      • Make sponge (then wait, or not, still experimenting)
      • Make dough and let rise for 20 minutes
      • Add sponge AND SALT to dough and mix
      • Let dough rise
      • Form loaves
      • Let dough rise again (just like the south wanted to)
      • Slice notches in top of bread
      • Heat oven / stone
      • Bake bread
      • Let bread cool on wire rack
    Here are the ingredients for the

    Hearty Country Bread recipe:

    1c warm water (110F degrees)
    1c whole wheat flour
    1/2c rye flour
    1/2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

    3 1/2-4c bread flour
    2 tbs honey
    1 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
    1 1/3c warm water
    2 tsp salt

    The recipe says to mix the sponge ingredients and then cover it with plastic wrap.  Then you are supposed to leave it for 6-24 hours.

    After that, mix the dough ingredients without the salt and start with 3.5 cups of bread flour and then let it sit in your standing mixer, covered, for 20 minutes.

    Then you mix the sponge and the salt in with the dough, and mix for 8 minutes. You are supposed to use the last 1/2 cup of bread flour here if the dough is too wet and doesn't hold on to the dough attachment correctly when the mixer is on.  Test Kitchen shows an image of the dough halfway on the hook and halfway stuck to the bottom of the bowl.  That's how you know it's the right moist level.  I'm still experimenting with wetter vs dryer doughs.

    Form this into a ball, mist vegetable oil over it (I just brush it on with a silicone brush), and allow it to rise for 1-1.5 hours in a bowl or container covered in plastic wrap, or until the dough has doubled in size.

    After this, you form your loaf or loaves (this part is actually somewhat difficult), place them on a piece of parchment paper set on a rimless cookie sheet, and then allow those to rise for another 1-1.5 hours until the dough has doubled again.  During this last rising period, you are supposed to heat your oven to 500F for at least 30 minutes with your baking stone in there (so I'll let you do the time math) and then slide the parchment paper with dough on it into the oven, onto the baking stone.

    Change the oven to be 425F and bake for 25 minutes if you're doing half the dough at a time, or 55 minutes if you're doing one big loaf.  The center of the loaf should be 210F on an instant read thermometer when it's done, but I usually just look to see if the crust is golden brown and basically looks like a loaf of bread I'd like to eat. :)

    Here are the things I discovered with this recipe:
    1. Do not substitute the rye flour. I didn't have rye flour when I started using this recipe so I tried using other things: brown rice flour, millet flour, and buckwheat flour.  Millet was okay, but really nothing tasted better than rye.  
    2. Sponge fermenting has unexpected flavors.  My co-workers definitely noticed this and asked me if I used beer in the bread or if there were some sort of alcohol in it when I left the sponge out for the longer end of that suggested time period.  I asked if that was a bad thing, but it seemed to just be unexpected.  They liked it, but there were no oohs and ahhs wondering what it was, so I was moderately disappointed. 
    3. Don't try to put the salt in after you let it rise if you forget. Sometimes I'd forget to mix in the salt  and try to put it in later.  The dough just can't take that kind of kneading.  You're better off just tossing it and starting over.  Although I haven't tried sprinkling it on top of the loaf. Eating it with some sort of salty spread helps a little, but really I think it's just a waste of calories because it doesn't taste that good at all. 
    4. Forming the loaves. I'm still working at this, but basically you don't want to overwork the dough once it's risen.  You want to dump the dough out onto a floured surface and push it into a rectangle.  Fold the sides in like you would a letter into an envelope.  Turn this over and then fold the other sides under too.  Tuck everything in so that all the folded parts are underneath and the bread is like a smooth ball with no tears.  This is tough to do the first time.  Too much flour and you end up with weird folds, too little flour and it sticks to everything and tears.  Do it enough and you'll get the hang of it. :)  Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself.  Sometimes the bread turns out pretty. 

    5. Don't put two loaves too close together. Sometimes, when one bread loves another bread very much, a special thing happens...

      Bread loves bread, and so do I.

    6. Adding cheese or rosemary is always delicious. However, I'm still trying to figure out the best time to put this in.  So far I've been folding it in before I let the loaves rise, but I bet it's better to put it in when you add the sponge to the dough.